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21st-Mar-2017 03:49 am - IRA street fighter turned statesman, Martin McGuinness dies aged 66

By Conor Humphries | BELFAST
Reuters
21 March 2017



Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who laid down his arms and turned peacemaker to help end Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict, died on Tuesday after a decade as deputy first minister of the British province.

As a young street fighter in Derry and later as a politician and statesman, McGuinness saw his mission as defending the rights of the Catholic minority against the pro-British Protestants who for decades dominated Northern Ireland.

But for his critics, that cause was never enough to justify the IRA's campaign of bombings and shootings that killed hundreds of British soldiers and civilians.

In his later years McGuinness was hailed as a peacemaker for negotiating the 1998 peace deal, sharing power with his bitterest enemy and shaking hands with the Queen, though the gestures were condemned by some former comrades as treachery.

He was forced to step down in January, a number of months before a planned retirement, because of an undisclosed illness.

At the time a frail and emotional McGuinness told a large group of supporters gathered outside his home in the Bogside area of Northern Ireland's second city that it broke his heart that he had to bow out of politics.

"I don't really care how history assesses me, but I'm very proud of where I've come from," McGuinness told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

He is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and four children.

IRA COMMANDER

Born on May 23, 1950 in Derry, McGuinness in childhood experienced the contempt which many of the pro-British Protestant government had for the Catholic Irish minority who dreamt of joining with the Irish Republic to the south.

A trainee butcher, McGuinness abandoned his apprenticeship in 1970 to join the IRA as the guerrilla group began its 30-year campaign against British rule that Catholics found increasingly intolerable. He swiftly rose to become a senior commander.

McGuinness later admitted he was second-in-command of the IRA in Derry on "Bloody Sunday" - the day in 1972 when British troops in the city killed 14 unarmed marchers, ushering in the most intense phase of the Troubles.

A British government inquiry found McGuinness was probably armed with a sub-machine gun that day, but that he did nothing to justify the troops' decision to open fire on the marchers.

In 1973 he was convicted by the Irish Republic's courts of being an IRA member after being stopped in a car packed with explosives and bullets and was briefly jailed.

Fellow nationalist inmates recall him as a fierce football player in the exercise yard.

He spent years on the run and was banned from entering Britain in 1982, during the IRA's bombing campaign there, under the prevention of terrorism act.

POLITICS AND PEACE

During the 1980s McGuinness emerged alongside Gerry Adams as a key architect in the electoral rise of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, advocating a strategy of combining the use of the ballot box with that of the Armalite rifle.

First elected as a member of the Northern Ireland assembly in 1982, McGuinness played a crucial role in keeping the more militant wing of the IRA on board as elements of the leadership secretly probed the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

Following the IRA's second ceasefire in 1997, McGuinness became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in peace talks that led to the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

Nine years later, the rise of Sinn Fein to become Northern Ireland's largest Irish nationalist party allowed McGuinness to become Deputy First Minister in the power-sharing government with bitter enemy Ian Paisley, the firebrand preacher many Catholics see as a key player in the genesis of the conflict.

McGuinness surprised many by forming a close working relationship with Paisley, the media dubbing the pair "the Chuckle Brothers". In 2012 he shook hands with Queen Elizabeth at a charity event in Belfast.

Such gestures alienated many former comrades who call him a traitor for helping to run the province while the Union Jack was still flying over it. McGuinness countered it was a stepping stone to their goal of a united Ireland.

Over the past decade, Sinn Fein has focused much of its resources on the Republic of Ireland, where it has grown from five to 23 seats of the 166-seat parliament in a decade.

A non-smoker, virtual teetotal and keen fisherman, McGuinness briefly moved south in 2011 for a failed run at Ireland's largely ceremonial presidency, wining just under 15 percent of the vote.

McGuinness leaves Northern Ireland at peace and hands over to a new generation with Sinn Fein a major political force across the island, and his dream of a united Ireland inching closer after the party recorded its best ever result in an election three weeks before his death.

(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Clarence Fernandez)

29th-Oct-2016 05:09 pm - IRA informer Raymond Gilmour found dead at Kent home
Kent Online
29 October 2016

photo Raymond Gilmour.jpg

Raymond Gilmour

An IRA informer living under an assumed name in Kent has been found dead at his flat.

Raymond Gilmour's body was found at his home, where it had lain undiscovered for up to a week, according to reports.

The 55-year-old former IRA member was forced to leave his native Derry after giving evidence in one of the republican supergrass trials in the 1980s.

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Raymond Gilmour in 1984 (Image source: Belfast Telegraph)

When the case brought against 31 people collapsed in 1984, MI5 moved him to England for his own protection.

Gilmour first joined the IRA in 1980 and was involved in several operations, mainly as a getaway driver.

He was arrested in 1981 after he and several others were intercepted on their way to attack police.

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Gilmour's cousin was one of those killed on Bloody Sunday.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, friends said Gilmour had never got over being separated from his family in Northern Ireland, and had suffered from alcoholism and mental health problems prior to his death.

Thy blamed MI5 for 'abandoning' Gilmour, and failing to provide him with proper support (See: 'Raymond Gilmour: The lonely death of a Derry Catholic...').

His funeral will take place next week.

20th-Oct-2016 04:06 pm - Stakeknife probe bias concerns rejected by English chief constable
By Philip Bradfield
News Letter
20 Oct 2016

The chief constable of Bedfordshire has addressed concerns that a probe into Stakeknife will focus on state actors at the expense of IRA personnel involved in some 50 related murders.

 photo Stakeknife 2003 Belfastsm.jpgStakeknife was an Army agent within the IRA who has been linked to some 50 murders. Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci has denied he is the agent.

Victims’ campaigners have expressed concern that the probe unveiled in recent days may focus primarily on the role of the state, at the expense of IRA members – and have asked how panel members were selected.

Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has appointed two independent groups of experts to support the investigation, code name Kenova.

Freddie Scappaticci in Belfast 2003 (Photo: Pacemaker via The Sun)

An Independent Steering Group (ISG) of senior law enforcement figures, has three members from the US and one each from Scotland, Australia and Northern Ireland – Baroness Nuala O’Loan.

A further six people will address the needs of the victims and their families via the Victims Focus Group (VFG). They are:

• Judith Thompson – the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Victims

• Maria McDonald – an Irish barrister who has acted as a consultant on international criminal law and victims’ rights

• Sue O’Sullivan – a former deputy chief of police (Ottawa) and Canada’s Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

• Mary Fetchet – a social worker who co-founded Voices of September 11th following the death of her son in the attacks

• Levent Altan – a former UK Ministry of Justice official who developed the European Union’s policy on victims’ rights

• Alan McBride – whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the IRA Shankill bomb in 1993. He is now a peace builder.

But victims’ campaigner Anne Travers expressed reservations.

“The only real victims on it are the lady from America and Alan McBride,” she said.

“I wonder how they were chosen? I would have liked to have seen more victims from Northern Ireland who lived through the Troubles, can empathise with families and who have a lived understanding of life here.

“I’m sure the panel chosen will do their very best but I feel something is missing.”

Another campaigner, Ken Funston of the South East Fermanagh Foundation, whose brother was also murdered by the IRA, said the probe would remove further resources from legacy policing.

“The confidence in the PSNI doing anything for ‘ordinary’ victims is ebbing away, the only way you can get anything done is to allege ‘collusion’,” he said.

Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer accepted the right of the families concerned to the investigation, but insisted it would have to be fair and focus equally on state and IRA actors.

For each murder involving Stakeknife, he said, the victim will have been chosen by senior high-profile republicans, as will the killers and support staff.

“All this will have been reported back to Stakeknife’s handlers and will have been recorded in intelligence files,” he said.

Senior republicans must therefore be arrested and charged, he added.

But Mr Boutcher told the News Letter he would go wherever the evidence takes him.

“The remit of this investigation is clear – Operation Kenova will seek to establish if there is any evidence of criminal offences by any party in relation to cases connected to the alleged agent known as Stakeknife.

“We will go wherever the evidence takes us, regardless of who that might potentially implicate,” he said.

“I have made a pledge to the victims’ families that I will do everything in my power to establish the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and bring anyone who had any involvement in these crimes to justice.”

Explaining how the panel members were chosen, he said: “I have carefully put together the Victims Focus Group and the Independent Steering Group, as I believe the members are among the very best in their field.”

They have championed victims’ rights “in complex and challenging situations” he added.

19th-Oct-2016 08:54 am - 'Significant evidence' uncovered in probe into murders linked to Stakeknife
Press Association
Belfast Telegraph
14 Oct 2016

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Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who is heading up the investigation into IRA agent Stakeknife

Significant new evidence has been uncovered by an English police chief investigating more than 50 murders linked to the Army's notorious IRA agent Stakeknife.

Victims' families have told stories never divulged before at the start of an independent probe by Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher into the high-ranking mole who led the IRA's "nutting squad" internal security unit while in the employ of the state.

A group of six international policing experts has been appointed to inform the investigation on a voluntary basis. They include senior police officers from the US, Scotland, an Australian ex-officer and ex-Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

In 2003 Stakeknife was widely named as west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci but he has always strongly denied the allegation.

Mr Boutcher said: "This week we have heard things that from what the families have told me they have never told anyone before, because nobody has asked them.

"What I have been told this week is significant evidence against the people responsible for these offences."

He has asked the victims' families to give him time to investigate and recover the evidence.

"It is incredible what I have heard.

"There is a pessimism which I understand, I completely get, because people felt let down and almost abandoned.

"It almost feels like their rights were taken away from them because of the nature of what happened to their loved ones.

"They have now got a voice and that is this investigation, and they told me of what they saw at that time that they have never been able to tell anybody before and we need people to do that."

The investigation is centred on possible crimes by paramilitaries, agents and Army and police handlers linked to Stakeknife, allegedly the military's highest-ranking spy within the IRA.

Multiple murders, attempted murders and unlawful imprisonments are included in the probe.

NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and counter-terrorism John Miller and Mike Downing, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, will be part of the expert advisory group.

It will also include Kathleen O'Toole, part of the Patten Commission which reformed policing in Northern Ireland.

Iain Livingstone, Deputy Chief Constable with Police Scotland, and Nick Kaldas, a former deputy commissioner of police in New South Wales who has been working with the UN on a Hezbollah probe in the Middle East, complete the group.

A second team of six victims' representatives have been appointed to address the needs of Stakeknife's alleged victims and their families. It includes: Alan McBride, bereaved in the IRA's Shankill Road fish shop bombing; Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson and Mary Fetchet, who founded Voices of September 11 following the death of her son at the World Trade Centre in 2001.

The Stakeknife investigation was launched after Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory referred the multiple allegations to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton asked external police to undertake the probe in an effort to ensure its independence. No former or current officers who have served in Northern Ireland will work on the investigation, nor will ex or serving Ministry of Defence or Security Service personnel.

It is funded by the PSNI.

5th-Oct-2016 03:25 am - IRA bombers who killed 22 in pub blasts may finally be brought to justice by DNA breakthrough
A 'wealth' of unseen evidence uncovered by fresh inquests set to be revealed

Jonathan Corke
Mirror Online
1 Oct 2016

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The aftermath of the Mulberry Bush pub bomb

The bombers behind two pub blasts in Birmingham over 40 years ago may finally be brought to justice by a DNA breakthrough.

Police re-investigating the 1974 IRA attacks – of which six innocent men were wrongly convicted – have found three profiles and two fingerprints on items collected in the aftermath.

The discovery by a £1.6million review codenamed Operation Castors was revealed in a top-level memo seen by the Sunday Mirror.

The memo says the finds are being checked against databases in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

And it adds: “It is possible that this could generate new lines of inquiry.”

The attacks on the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the town pubs killed 21 people and injured 222. A third device was found near a Barclays bank.

The men convicted of the attacks, known as the Birmingham Six, spent 16 years in prison while the real ­perpetrators were never caught.

Now a “wealth” of previously unseen evidence is set to be revealed after fresh inquests were ordered following a lengthy campaign by relatives. In total, Operation Castors, which involved 16 officers and forensic experts, examined more than 18,000 items including exhibits, reports and statements.

The memo from the Office for ­Security and Counter-Terrorism reveals how 35 exhibits from 1974 have been lost, saying this is “deeply worrying”.

It also condemns the original West Midlands Police probe into the ­bombings as “deeply flawed”.

In deciding to order the fresh inquests, Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt said police may have ignored two tip-offs the IRA were about to strike.

Last week the Government told relatives wanting help with legal fees at the new hearings that direct Home Office funding had been refused.

16th-Sep-2016 11:58 pm - Mountbatten boat boy murder no act of war: victims’ group
By Mark Rainey
News Letter
16 Sept 2016

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Portora Royal pupil Paul Maxwell was killed when the IRA bombed a boat owned by Lord Mountbatten

A film maker has angered some terror victims by describing the IRA attack on Lord Mountbatten’s fishing party in Sligo as “an act of war”. In an online pitch to raise funds for a short film about the 1979 bombing that claimed the life of 15-year-old Paul Maxwell, as well as the Queen’s cousin and two of his relatives, Joe Madden uses the word “war” several times.

Yesterday the ‘Boat Boy’ film appeal hit its target of £15,000 and the film-maker behind the project told the News Letter he hoped to begin filming as soon as possible.

Paul Maxwell’s family lived in Enniskillen but owned a cottage in Mullaghmore. The Portora Royal pupil had taken a summer job as a crew member on Mountbatten’s boat Shadow V and was saving his pay to buy a bicycle.

Mr Madden said he was prepared to meet any victims’ group concerned about his description of the film’s backdrop. He said: “Everyone talks about the Mountbatten death, but no one remembers a young boy, or very few people do, especially in England, so I really wanted to tell this story. “They (the victims’ groups) can call me and we can discuss it.

The thing that I have put up online is a pitch to get money for a short film. It will annoy some people but then other people, and especially English people who are our main financiers behind all this... that’s who we’re trying to sell it to.”

Mr Madden added: “I’m not saying it should have happened, or that it shouldn’t have happened, I’m not saying any of that. If they want I can send the script to them and they can have a read of it to see what they think. It’s dealing with a delicate subject so it’s always going to rub someone up the wrong way.”

In a video to promote the fundraising effort, Mr Madden says: “Boat Boy is not a politically motivated film. It is the coming of age story of Paul Maxwell and how in the summer of ‘79 he takes his first steps into becoming a responsible young adult with his first summer job. I wanted to show that, even in times of war, life must go on, and when I came across the story of Paul Maxwell I thought it was a really interesting way to express that idea. “Paul Maxwell tragically lost his life in an act of war. It is in this fatal climax that we are reminded that not all casualties of that are soldiers.”

Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) accepted that the film could prove to be “extremely powerful,” but said some of the language being used was unacceptable. “What happened in Mullaghmore, Sligo was an act of terrorism, an act of cold and brutal murder, an act of cowardice – it was not an act of war,” he said.

“If the narrative is not accurate to the reality of events then the film’s potential for good is thwarted. If it was a war then senior members of the republican movement, who now wear suits, and others who don’t belong to that elite, plus many others would be up in The Hague for serious war crimes.”

Paul’s mother Mary Hornsey said she has been “taken aback” in the past when her son’s murder has been the subject of press or television coverage without prior warning to the family. “That can come as an awful shock to people,” Ms Hornsey said.

Ms Hornsey revealed that she was never quite comfortable in the Mullaghmore cottage, and had reservations about Paul taking the Mountbatten job due to the security risk. “I was assured that there was going to be a lot of protection on that boat and that is why I said ‘okay then,’ but there wasn’t,” she added.
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8th-Sep-2016 01:34 pm - Time for Sinn Fein to come clean on secret deal that may have saved hunger strikers
Mrs Thatcher offered concessions to the inmates, but proposal was rebuffed, writes Alban Maginness

Alban Maginnis
Belfast Telegraph
7 Sept 2016

Every year, the British Government releases secret papers relating to Northern Ireland under the 30-years rule, and as time goes by we get to know a little bit more about the truth behind the Troubles. It can be a fascinating insight into the workings of the direct rule administration.

Recently, the Government released a memo from a British civil servant, Stephen Leach, to a more senior civil servant, John Blelloch, who served as a deputy permanent secretary during the hunger strikes in 1981. He had a crucial involvement at that critical time with Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister. The memo confirms that a "good offer" was made that could have ended the hunger strike and saved four or maybe six of the republican prisoners.

The official Sinn Fein narrative of the hunger strikes is that Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, inflexible and immovable throughout, who was by her very inflexibility directly and solely responsible for the deaths of the 10 republican prisoners who were on hunger strike in Long Kesh.

Richard O'Rawe, who was PRO of the republican prisoners in Long Kesh during the hunger strikes, has courageously put forward in his books Blanketmen and Afterlives an alternative narrative which disputes that and which is much more credible.

Bobby Sands

O'Rawe makes it abundantly clear that Danny Morrison of Sinn Fein told Bik McFarlane, the IRA leader in the prison, the terms of a British offer to end the hunger strike and that McFarlane then told O'Rawe and that both of them agreed that the offer was good. However, he points out that the hunger strikers themselves were never consulted on the terms of this "good offer". He argues strongly that Adams and a committee of leading republicans, for self-interested political reasons, refused this "good offer" from the British Government in early July 1981 and when it was repeated again on July 21, 1981.

The main reason for this, he suspects, was to ensure the safe election of Owen Carron in the by-election to fill the seat left vacant by the late Bobby Sands MP. If the hunger strike continued, electoral victory was assured.

If there was no continuing hunger strike, then the seat could have been lost to another nationalist candidate, or on a divided nationalist vote to a unionist, thereby depriving Owen Carron of victory. This would have prevented the emergence of Adams' political strategy for the republican movement. If that was the IRA strategy at the time, then it was both cunning and ruthless, involving the additional and unnecessary deaths of the six remaining hunger strikers.

This "good offer" was confirmed to intermediaries the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJP) by Adams at a meeting in a house in Andersonstown in early July 1981. This is also referred to in Leach's Government memo.

The commission confirmed that Adams admitted to them in July 1981 that a "good offer" had been made by the British Government through a back channel whose code name was Mountain Climber. Adams also warned the ICJP to stay out of the process.

Richard O'Rawe has kept track of previously released Government papers and says that they substantially support his narrative. The recent Leach memo reinforces his argument.

He believes that Adams should apologise to the hunger strikers' families and the wider community.

He is adamantly of the view that, "the British were broke, the hunger strike broke the British".

As O'Rawe succinctly puts it: "The hunger strikers broke Thatcher's resolve."

In essence, that's why the British made a good offer, which met almost in full four out of the five demands of the prisoners. The most important concession made was the right to wear their own clothes and not be forced to wear the prison uniform, the very symbol of criminalisation. Criminalisation of the IRA prisoners was at the centre of the hunger strikes.

For years now, the republican leadership has rejected O'Rawe's account and has systematically tried to discredit both him and his version of events.

Fearlessly, he has countered their arguments and refuses to be bullied by them. He and his family have had to endure persistent vilification and criticism.

He has continued to examine the evidence that has come out through Government papers to strengthen his arguments. He has challenged senior republicans to debate with him publicly, but they have refused.

He has supported the idea of an independent inquiry into the hunger strikes and would be willing to give evidence to it. Sinn Fein has refused to participate in such an independent enquiry. The party has even refused to go on TV with him to debate the issues arising from the hunger strikes.

Now he says that they should have, "A bit of humility after 35 years - it's the decent thing to do".

The problem is, neither Adams, nor Sinn Fein understand either humility, or the truth.
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28th-Jul-2016 03:34 pm - Man charged in connection with Donaldson murder
RTÉ News
28 July 2016

A 74-year-old man has appeared before the Special Criminal Court charged in connection with the murder of Denis Donaldson ten years ago.

Patrick Gillespie, with an address at Craigvar Street, Glasgow, Scotland was charged with withholding information regarding the involvement of another person in the killing of Denis Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal in April 2006.

He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder in 2008 but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing as a British agent and subsequent murder have long been shrouded in mystery.

A long-delayed inquest into the shooting has been adjourned almost 20 times.

Gardaí have repeatedly urged the coroner to postpone the inquiry, citing concerns it might compromise their criminal investigation.

The delays have been a source of anger for Mr Donaldson's relatives. They have launched a legal action against the Irish State as a consequence.

In 2014, gardaí made a mutual assistance request to a police force outside the Republic in a bid to gain what it described as potentially "significant" evidential material.

That material was secured in March this year.

Two men were arrested in Donegal on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the murder.

The second man, who is in his 40s, has been released without charge.

A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

27th-Jul-2016 02:29 am - Two held in Ireland over murder of British spy Denis Donaldson
Senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead in Co Donegal in 2006, a year after being exposed as an MI5 agent

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
26 July 2016



One big happy family! Denis Donaldson, centre, with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams in 2005. (Photograph: Paul Faith/PA)

Irish detectives have arrested two men in connection with the murder of one of MI5’s most important spies inside the IRA.

The pair have been detained for questioning about the murder of former leading Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson in Co Donegal in 2006.

The Garda Síochána said the men, who are in their 40s and 70s, were detained on Tuesday under the Irish Republic’s Offences Against the State Act.

They are being held at Letterkenny garda station in Co Donegal. Donaldson, a former close associate of Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams, was killed by a shotgun blast as he answered the door to his cottage near Glenties in April 2006.

The 55-year-old had been exposed months before his death as an MI5 agent working inside Sinn Féin and the IRA. Dissident republican terror group the Real IRA admitted responsibility for the murder.

Prior to his exposure as a British spy, Donaldson was a prominent figure in the republican movement and eventually became head of Sinn Féin’s administrative team in the Stormont parliament in Belfast.

The inquest into his death has been delayed at least 19 times, with his family taking legal action against the authorities in Ireland over the delays.

There have been allegations that a journal belonging to Donaldson was found in his cottage and, due to its sensitive contents, the Irish police have consistently applied for postponements of the inquest.
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23rd-May-2016 02:44 pm - Inquest into Kingsmill massacre in Northern Ireland begins
Killing of 10 Protestant workmen was believed to have been carried out by IRA despite republican organisation denying it all these years

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
23 May 2016



Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre, arrives at Belfast coroner’s court for the inquest. (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA)

The sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre, when 10 Protestant workmen were killed by the IRA in 1976, has called for the “unvarnished truth” at the opening of an inquest into the atrocity.

Alan Black survived despite being shot 18 times when members of the IRA’s south Armagh brigade opened fire on the workers at Kingsmill, in County Armagh, after stopping them on a minibus going to work.

It later emerged at the hearing that two suspects connected to the killings were given “letters of comfort” from Tony Blair’s government as part of a secret deal with Sinn Féin during the peace process, to allow IRA members on the run, or wanted fugitives, back into Northern Ireland.

Speaking outside Laganside courthouse in Belfast on Monday, Black said it was a “red letter day” for him and the families of the murdered men. “We have fought long and hard for this review.

“Obstacles were put in our way. Thanks to these people we have gotten over each one,” he said referring to the families of those who died in the attack. The inquest will hear opening statements from family members of the murdered men.

The atrocity was claimed by the South Armagh Republican Action Force in revenge for a loyalist sectarian double murder in the county. However, republican and security sources down through the decades have said the IRA was behind the Kingsmill killings, even though the organisation has never publicly admitted it.

Monday’s inquest also ruled out a conspiracy theory that claimed an SAS captain, Robert Nairac, had a hand in the murders. Nairac went undercover within the IRA and was later killed by republicans after being abducted from a pub. The inquest was told that the soldier was not serving in Northern Ireland at the time of the atrocity.

The inquest will also hear from police officers belonging to the historical enquiries team, a policing unit tasked with reopening unsolved cases from the Troubles. In 2011, the HET concluded the IRA was responsible for the Kingsmill massacre.

19th-May-2016 05:35 am - IRA tried to write my mum's story. I'm here to put it straight
Daughter of woman shot dead by Provos as an alleged informer after being held 15 days speaks out as battle for justice gathers pace

By Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
18 May 2016



Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was abducted and murdered by the IRA in June 1994 - (BBC image)

A daughter has described the emotional meeting she had with the elderly woman who found her murdered mother's body lying on a lonely border road.

Shauna Moreland also revealed how police had let the body of 34-year-old Caroline lie on the roadside near Roslea, Co Fermanagh, for 13 hours because they feared the IRA had booby-trapped it.

The heartbreaking delay was also caused by the fact that half of Caroline's body was on the northern side of the border and the rest was in the South, leading to lengthy talks between the RUC and Garda over which jurisdiction her murder fell.

In a powerful interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Shauna - who was only 10 when her mother was murdered as an alleged informer in July 1994 - described the horrific details of her killing.

"She was taken from west Belfast and brought to Fermanagh in the boot of a car where she was held for 15 days," she said.

"She was killed, on her knees and blindfolded, with tissue under the blindfold. She was shot three times in the side of the head. I've pictured what happened in my mind 50,000 times."

Last year Shauna met the woman who found her mother's body when she was out walking her dog at 7am that summer morning.

"The lady was bed-bound and in her 80s," she said. "It was very emotional for me. I brought her a bunch of flowers and I apologised to her for what she had to see on the road. It devastated our lives, but that woman was traumatised too."

Caroline, a single mother-of-three from west Belfast, was shot dead by the Provos six weeks before the 1994 ceasefire for allegedly working as an informer.

Her family believe she was a victim of Freddie Scappaticci - named in the media as the high-ranking British agent codenamed Stakeknife - and are seeking truth and justice through the courts.

The Morelands maintain that the authorities had ample opportunity to step in and save Caroline's life, but chose to let her die in order to protect a more senior and valuable alleged informer.

The last time Shauna saw her mummy was at home ironing. "I miss her so much," she said.

"I'm a chef and on Mother's Day I stand in the kitchen cooking food for God knows how many mothers.

"It makes me sad and angry that I never had the chance to cook a meal for my own mother."

Shauna explained how her two big brothers, then aged 13 and 14, also grieved for Caroline but that she felt her loss differently.

"There are things for which daughters need mothers and she wasn't there, like buying my first bra and getting my first period," she said.

"I had my grannies and my aunts, but it wasn't the same. Even now I feel that void. I'm not able to buy her presents. For 22 years on Mother's Day and on her birthday, all I can do is bring flowers to her grave.

"On my 18th and 21st birthday parties I looked around the room at all the people who were gathered to celebrate with me, but the most important person wasn't there."

It is not just on the big occasions that 31-year-old Shauna misses her mother most.

"The smaller stuff is even harder," she said. "I called in on a friend the other day as she was making her mummy a cup of tea and it hit me that I'd never done that for my mother. I wouldn't have a clue how she liked her tea, if she took milk or sugar.

"I get jealous when I see other people with their mummies. I had mine for just 10 years. She's been dead twice as long as she was with me."

Shauna also told this newspaper how Caroline could not have been a better mother.

"She was warm and affectionate," she said. "We always knew that we were loved. We felt safe with her, like nothing or nobody could harm us.

"Other mothers can complain a lot about their kids, but mummy loved being with us.

"She would have shouted at us for making a mess or being boisterous, but my strongest memories are of a house filled with fun and laughter.

"During the summer holidays she wouldn't have the money to take us to Spain or Turkey, but she organised countless days out. We went on the bus to Newcastle or the train to Crawfordsburn. She packed sandwiches and took us to the Ulster Museum.

"On Christmas Eve she had her rituals. She'd put a Christmas film on the TV and make hot chocolate for us. Then we'd be allowed to open two presents each - it was always the selection boxes and the pyjamas."

When Caroline was abducted by the IRA relatives told the children she was in hospital.

"She had a difficult birth with me - her spine crumbled and she had metal plates inserted - and she was in and out of hospital regularly, so we didn't doubt what we were told," said Shauna.

"But I remember the phone ringing and my granny and daddy going upstairs afterwards to talk to my brother. I heard him crying, and he never cried. When they told me mummy was dead; I was hysterical."

Shauna remembers being brought to the wake in her granny's home. "Mummy had auburn hair and her curls tumbled around her face," she said. "The woman in the coffin had her hair pulled back, so I said to myself: 'That's not my mummy'. I tried to escape from her death, to blank it out, rather than deal with it.

"I told myself that mummy had just gone away on a wee break because she was tired of my brother and I fighting. I convinced myself she wasn't dead, that it was a dream and I'd wake to see her standing over the bed saying: 'Ready for school?'"

After talking to relatives, Shauna and her brothers decided not to go to their mother's funeral. "I still don't know if it was the right call," she said. "I go to the funeral of relatives of friends and say to myself: 'I'm at the funeral of someone I barely knew and I wasn't at my mum's'."

Shauna's one consolation is that the IRA did not try to hide Caroline's body. "At least they left mummy on the road. They didn't 'disappear' her like Jean McConville," she said.

But Shauna is tormented by thoughts of the 15 days the IRA held Caroline. "I've gone over what could have happened and I probably imagine it 100 times worse than it was," she said. "The inquest found nothing to suggest she was tortured or assaulted, but they had her two weeks - they hardly did nothing."

In her 20s Shauna started to Google her mother's name. "The words that constantly came up were 'IRA informer'," she said. "I hated that because it was the label the IRA had created to try to excuse or lighten murdering her.

"Caroline Moreland wasn't just an IRA informer, she was a mother, a daughter and a sister. They tried to write her story, but I am here now to tell what they omitted."

Shauna is particularly proud that her mother, along with her grannies, raised thousands of pounds for muscular dystrophy.

And although she grew up in a working-class nationalist area, she was never taunted about her mother. "I wasn't filled with hate against the IRA, but when I heard people condemn the British or loyalists for what they did, I'd think: 'My own ones hurt me more'," Shauna explained.

"Some media have wanted to steer me down the road of battering only the IRA, and I won't do that. The State was equally to blame for my mother's death. It made the bullet, the IRA fired it."

Shauna has been told that she has a similar temperament to her mother. "That makes me happy, but I think mummy was more confident," she said.

"She was a very strong woman. If she walked into a room, people knew she was there. She's my role model. I find the strength to fight for my mother from my mother."

Many bereaved relatives pose for media photographs holding a picture of their loved one. Shauna refuses to do that. "It's too painful," she said. "I don't want to hold a photo, I want to hold her. I want to give her the biggest hug in the world and never, ever let her go."

18th-May-2016 07:03 am - David Black accused refused Supreme Court bid
Alan Erwin, Belfast
:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016

The only man charged in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black has been blocked from asking the Supreme Court to overturn an order for him to stand trial.

Senior judges in Belfast refused Damien McLaughlin's application after rejecting claims his case raised a point of law of general public importance.

Lawyers for the 39-year-old claim he was unfairly denied the chance to cross-examine a key prosecution witness. They also contended that a district judge who committed him for trial applied the wrong legal test.

McLaughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the prison officer's killing.

They include aiding and abetting his murder, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle which the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.

Damien McLaughlin

Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 in Co Armagh in November 2012 en route to work at high security Maghaberry Prison.

The 52-year-old father of two was the first Northern Ireland prison officer to be murdered in nearly 20 years. The prosecution alleges McLaughlin transported the Toyota car across the Irish border on the eve of the attack.

In June last year a preliminary investigation resulted in the district judge ordering him to be returned for trial.

McLaughlin's legal team launched judicial review proceedings against decisions to admit hearsay evidence and to return him for trial.

Their challenge centred on statements from a man who was arrested and interviewed by the Garda as a suspect in the murder plot.

He was not called as a witness during the preliminary investigation.

Counsel for McLaughlin, who is currently on bail, argued that there is a statutory right to cross-examine witnesses before trial.

A prosecution barrister countered that the proceedings were a form of satellite litigation.

Last month the High Court dismissed the judicial review challenge after ruling there was nothing irrational or perverse about the process.

McLaughlin's legal team returned on Tuesday to seek permission from judges to take their case to the Supreme Court in London.

But refusing leave, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "We have decided we are not going to certify a point of law of general public importance.

"The decision for the magistrate in committal (proceedings) is a broad discretionary judgment taking account of all relevant factors.

"We have concluded the magistrate did not err in the approach in this particular case."

18th-May-2016 05:59 am - Evidence from US witness sought in Jean McConville case
Ivor Bell alleged to have given interview about killing to Boston College researchers

Irish Times
16 May 2016



Ivor Bell leaving Belfast Laganside Court last year after he faced counts of aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville. (File Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Efforts are being made to obtain evidence from an American witness in the case against a veteran republican charged over the killing of Jean McConville, a court heard today.

A prosecution lawyer disclosed attempts to have them compelled to testify about alleged offences linked to Ivor Bell.

The 79-year-old faces charges of soliciting to murder connected to an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville. The victim, a mother of 10, was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried. Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Mr Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of the city, was arrested and charged in March 2014. The case against him centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College as part of a project with former paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Transcripts

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.

It is alleged Mr Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her. A voice analyst has been enlisted as part of the case.

The accused - who is currently on bail - denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time. His lawyers contend that he does not have a case to answer.

They are expected to mount an attempt to have the charges thrown out at a preliminary inquiry hearing where witnesses can be cross-examined in a bid to test the strength of the evidence.

At Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday, prosecution lawyer John O’Neill provided an update on proceedings. He indicated that efforts have been made to compel an unnamed witness from America to give evidence. However, that person remains unwilling to comply with requests.

An application may now be made to have this evidence admitted on a hearsay basis.

The case was then adjourned until next month when the prosecution is expected to finalise its position.

18th-May-2016 05:22 am - Family granted challenge over Stakeknife probe
The family of a murdered Belfast mother-of-three has won High Court permission to challenge the PSNI for not including her killing in a major investigation into a top British spy in the IRA.

Alan Erwin, Belfast
:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016



Freddie Scappaticci

A judge granted leave to seek a judicial review of the Chief Constable's decision not to have Caroline Moreland's abduction and shooting form part of the inquiry into the activities of agent Stakeknife, named widely as Freddie Scappaticci.

Mr Justice Colton ruled that police are arguably under a legal obligation to carry out a probe into the circumstances surrounding Ms Moreland's death.

Ms Moreland, a 34-year-old Catholic, was tortured and killed by the IRA in July 1994 for being an alleged British informer.

Despite an RUC investigation no-one has ever been charged or convicted of her murder.

Her children have issued proceedings in a bid to secure a fully independent probe. At an earlier hearing it was claimed that west Belfast man Scappaticci was permitted to engage in a murder campaign in order to strengthen his position as a British spy.

It was claimed the relatives of up to 50 victims are waiting for answers.

Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was identified by the media as Stakeknife.

Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the agent.

In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife's activities, along with what was known by RUC Special Branch and MI5.

Relatives of those allegedly killed by the IRA's internal security team, the so-called 'Nutting Squad', have backed that move. But they are opposed to the PSNI taking charge amid suspicions of security force collusion.

Chief Constable George Hamilton has decided detectives from an external force should handle the inquiry, with confirmation of who will take charge expected next month.

Any investigation into Stakeknife could last five years and cost up to £35million.

With Ms Moreland's murder currently not featuring in the planned inquiry, lawyers for her family claimed it was an unlawful exclusion.



Caroline Moreland (Photo: Irish News)

They insisted police are obligated by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to investigate the killing in the Stakeknife probe.

Counsel for the PSNI argued that the legal challenge was premature and insisted no decision has been made to exclude the Moreland murder.

But Mr Justice Colton held today that the Chief Constable has arguably acted unlawfully by failing to include her death in the examination into the agent.

He also granted leave on points about delay, the requirement to ensure an independent investigation, and an alleged failure to properly involve the next of kin.

Stressing that his decision was no indication of a final outcome in the challenge, Mr Justice Colton listed the case for a further review next month.

The Moreland family's solicitor described the ruling as "a vindication of their fight for justice".

Kevin Winters also claimed others in the same situation were having to resort to the courts to contest "regressive decisions".

Speaking outside court he said: "There are currently over 40 such challenges pending before the courts with no sign of any let up in the near future.

"Those statistics are a depressing reminder of the ongoing political failure to deal with the past compounded by recent pronouncements about lack of money."

Mr Winters added: "We look forward to the next stage of the proceedings and hope that today's ruling will help get the outside police force off the ground in what will be a massive inquiry."

26th-Feb-2016 08:51 am - Alleged ex-IRA chief Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy jailed for tax evasion but protests innocence
Belfast News Letter
26 Feb 2016

Alleged former IRA leader Thomas “Slab” Murphy was behind bars for the first time on Friday.

After being jailed for 18 months for tax evasion by the Irish courts, the bachelor farmer and self-confessed republican protested his innocence, claimed he was a victim and denied being at the head of a property empire.

The 66-year-old was found guilty of nine charges at the high security Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Murphy, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, on the border with Northern Ireland, was found to owe the Irish exchequer taxes, penalties and interest of almost 190,000 euro (£147,000) for tax dodging from 1996-2004.

In a statement from a prison cell the alleged Provo chief said he would appeal and criticised investigations into him, the trial and the media.

“I am an Irish Republican and have been all my life,” Murphy said.

“For many years now I have been the subject of serial, prejudicial and wholly inaccurate commentary and media coverage. There have also been repeated assertions that I have amassed properties and wealth.

“This is utterly untrue. I do not own any property at all and I have no savings.”

Dressed in a pink shirt, brown jacket and slacks, Murphy showed little emotion in the dock as the sentence was delivered.

He acknowledged some family members and friends as he was led out of a side door of the court.

Murphy was jailed for 18 months for each of the nine counts of tax evasion, with the terms to run concurrently, meaning he could be eligible for release in a year.

He has no previous convictions.

Judge Paul Butler, presiding in the three-judge court, noted the publicity around the trial but insisted reports of Murphy’s republican links did not sway the verdict or the sentencing.

“It has no bearing whatsoever upon the Revenue charges,” the judge said.

“This court must and does treat the accused as a farmer and cattle dealer with no other connections, past or present.”

The judges said they took into account Murphy’s age, his clean record, that he had been on bail for several years which would have impacted his life and that he had continued to work in steady employment as he awaited trial.

Judge Butler also said the total proven tax evasion was “relatively small for such a long period”.

Murphy was sentenced in a non-jury court, which normally deals with terrorist and gangland trials, as Ireland votes in a general election.

And the decision of the three-judge court demanded more answers from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over his description of Murphy as a “good republican”.

After voting in Co Louth where he is a TD, Mr Adams was asked if he thought the sentence would have any influence on voters’ choices.

“It shouldn’t have, but we’ll see,” he said.

Mr Adams also declined to comment on the timing of the sentencing.

“That’s a matter for the court but what we are concerned about is trying to bring about real change, real change in people’s lives. If you vote for the same crowd you’ll end up with the same thing,” he said.

The penalties for Murphy’s tax offences could have been as much as five years in jail or fines of up to 100,000 euro (£77,800).

The farmer, who has no previous convictions and works as a yardsman for a business in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, did not give evidence during the 32-day trial.

He also ignored questions on his way in to hear his fate.

At the hearing, Murphy’s defence team attempted to use his silence as further mitigation with the argument that he had not attempted to mislead the court.

The trial heard that the total tax bill for the nine years was 38,519.56 euro (about £30,000), and interest built up on those unpaid bills was 151,445.10 euro (about £117,000), taking the final amount owed to 189,964.66 euro.

He was charged with five counts under the Republic’s Taxes Consolidation Act and four under the Finance Act that he knowingly and wilfully failed to make tax returns and did so without reasonable excuses.

The court found he did not furnish Ireland’s Revenue authorities with a return of income, profits or gains or the sources of them over the period but received 100,000 euro (£73,000) in farm grants and paid out 300,000 euro (£220,000) to rent land.

In 1998, Murphy lost a £1 million libel action against the Sunday Times which described him as a senior IRA figure.

On one of only two other occasions when he has spoken publicly, he claimed he had to sell a home in order to pay for some of the costs of the failed lawsuit.

In his statement issued by his legal team, Murphy further denied two witnesses had been intimidated during the trial - a vet and a landowner he rented land from.

“This is absolutely untrue. The witnesses did give evidence. The prosecution’s legal team did not even allege there was witness intimidation,” he said.

Murphy also criticised the investigation by Revenue chiefs and the Garda.

“Despite never having been questioned by An Garda Siochana in relation to Revenue matters, I was arrested, charged and put on trial in the Special Criminal Court for failing to file tax returns in respect of farming,” he said.

“The case presented against me was that tax returns with an average liability of 4,279 euro tax per annum should have been filed by me over a nine-year period in relation to farming.

“The evidence called by the prosecution showed that tax returns were made by family members in respect of the farm, and that all tax on any profit from farming has been paid.

“I maintain my innocence in respect of these charges which date back 20 years.

“Naturally I am very disappointed at the verdict of the court and have instructed my legal team to pursue an appeal immediately.”
19th-Dec-2015 10:08 pm - Damage done by Murphy's activities will take decades to clean up
The Troubles were good to Thomas Murphy, Gerry Adams's 'decent friend' and 'good republican'.

Jim Cusack
Independent.ie
18 Dec 2015



Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy was a senior organising figure in the ‘South Armagh Brigade’ of the Provisional IRA

'Slab' has never served time in jail but has become an enormously wealthy landowner and cattle dealer, and de facto owner of a network of fuel operations and property across Ireland and Britain.

During the 1970s, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was a senior organising figure in the 'South Armagh Brigade' of the Provisional IRA, following in the footsteps of his father, Paddy, who was a member of the IRA in the War of Independence. Thomas was not known to take part in any attacks on soldiers or police, but was known for the continuance of his smuggling business.

The South Armagh brigade was one of the most active elements of the Northern IRA. It was responsible for the biggest single loss of life for the British Army since World War II when 18 members of the Parachute Regiment were killed in a double-bomb attack near Warrenpoint in August 1979. An innocent English tourist was also shot dead as the remaining soldiers overreacted to their losses.

The attack was the culmination of years of action by the South Armagh IRA which in the early stages of the Troubles, during the early to mid-1970s, often engaged British forces in prolonged and heavy gun battles.

British officers at the time likened the tight network of lanes and high hedges of south Armagh to the ground they had fought the Nazis in, in Normandy after D-Day.

Slab was a focus of attention for the British authorities not only for his involvement in the 'Movement', but also because of his open and large-scale involvement in smuggling.

The amount of money being raised through fuel-laundering throughout south Armagh and in particular around Slab's home right on the Border at Ballybinaby was so great that the British government passed an emergency piece of legislation, the Newry and Mourne Regulation of Hydrocarbon Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order in August 1990.

The law made it an offence to transport any form of hydrocarbon fuel along Larkins Road, on which Slab still lives in what, from the outside, appears to be an ordinary bungalow.

Larkins Road was the only thoroughfare in the United Kingdom in which it was an offence to drive an oil lorry. The law was never used against Murphy as he never drove any lorries containing fuel or much else.

Repeated raids were carried out on Slab's farm and extensive outbuildings and on diesel plants around south Armagh and north Louth but, with one or two exceptions, no one has served any deterrent prison sentence.

The IRA's fuel business turned south Armagh into a petro-chemical complex with dozens of small farms turned into diesel 'washing' plants, the farm buildings often rented for £1,000 in cash per week.

However, the residue of this trade is a disastrous level of pollution of the countryside. In recent weeks, the heavy rain has been literally washing diesel and other highly dangerous chemicals used in the 'washing' process out of soil and into streams and rivers.

The toxic waste from the diesel plants has for years been seeping into the Fane River and Lough Ross drinking water supplies that feed into the water taps of some 35,000 households in north Louth and south Armagh.

Slab's own home town of Crossmaglen receives its drinking water directly from Lough Ross, the same reservoir that the IRA fuel gangsters have been leeching toxic chemicals into for more than 20 years.

This is a legacy of the IRA in south Armagh that will take generations to clean up.
17th-Dec-2015 04:30 pm - Farmer accused of being senior IRA commander convicted of tax fraud
Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, whose farm straddles border, found guilty of failing to file tax returns in Ireland between 1996-2004

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
17 Dec 2015

**See also: Will The Provos Stand By 'Slab'? - Ed Moloney



Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, 66, faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in January. (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA)

An Irish farmer once named in court as a senior IRA commander has been convicted of tax fraud in the Republic.

Thomas “Slab” Murphy was found guilty at the special criminal court on Thursday of failing to make tax returns to Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners.

The 66-year-old, whom the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, described as a “good republican”, will be sentenced in January.

Murphy from Hackballscross, County Louth, which is close to the border with Northern Ireland, had pleaded not guilty to nine charges of failing to file returns of his income, profits or gains and the actual source of his income to the inspector of taxes between 1996 to 2004.

But the three judges at the non-jury court in Dublin found Murphy guilty beyond all reasonable doubt on all nine offences.

The case came about after an investigation by Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau following a raid on his farm in 2006.

Murphy who was surrounded by a large group of supporters as well as members of his family was remanded on bail. He could face up to five years in jail.

In 1998 Murphy lost a libel appeal in Dublin court after the Sunday Times alleged he was the director of the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain as well as helping to import tonnes of weapons from Libya into Ireland during the 1980s.

According to a subsequent BBC investigation Murphy was estimated to control a fortune worth £40m, earned through diesel, cigarettes, grains and pigs.

Murphy, whose farm straddles Co Louth and Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, has never denied being a republican and has stressed his support for the peace process. The IRA’s South Armagh Brigade, which numerous books and documentaries have alleged Murphy commanded, has been loyal to the mainstream republican leadership and Sinn Féin.
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7th-Nov-2015 05:18 pm - An alternative history of the Easter Rising
Patrick Murphy
Irish News
07 November 2015

The solution is simple. If there are going to be several competing centenary commemorations of the 1916 Rising next year, we can solve the problem of how to accommodate them all by doing what we now do best in Ireland - re-writing history.

We can create a revised version of the Rising, so that each group can justify its claim to be the true inheritors of the 1916 ideals. Welcome to Ireland, the land of instant history, where facts are flexible and the truth is a far-off planet.

So here is the (not very) authorised history of the 1916 Rising.

It all began when Pearse was walking down O'Connell Street one day, which was very hard to do at that time, because there was no O'Connell Street.

So he texted James Connolly to ask: "Where am I?" ("That's ridiculous", I hear you shout. You have a point, but is it any more ridiculous than claiming that the IRA's thirty-year war was for "equality" and not for a united Ireland? If we are going to re-write history, we may as well do it properly.)

Connolly replied by writing a pamphlet (Marxists love writing pamphlets) saying that he was busy preparing to serve King (meaning England) and Kaiser (Germany).

(We have reversed Connolly's views to accommodate almost every commemoration next year. Nearly everyone in Ireland now accepts the legitimacy of London rule in the north and Berlin rule, through the EU, across the whole island. So with a swift battering of the keyboard, all groups can now celebrate Irish "independence".)

While passing the GPO, Pearse noticed that it would be a wonderful setting for a rising. But while he was marvelling at the decor, he heard that Roger Casement had been arrested in Kerry.

Casement was later marched through the streets of Tralee to the Dublin train and not a single soul tried to rescue him. "Don't worry, Roger," the townsfolk would have shouted had they bothered to come out. "One day there will be a stadium named after you and your name will be on the lips of every planning official and health and safety officer in the north."

(I'm not sure which group we have re-written that bit for, but it might come in useful.)

So Pearse said: "Let us organise a rising, but it shall be a peaceful rising, because violence is wrong." (That covers the contradiction of preaching peace, while celebrating violence.) So they began their peaceful rising by entering into dialogue with a post office clerk and then engaging in bi-lateral talks, followed by a plenary session - just like they do at Stormont.

They later published the GPO House Agreement whereby the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) would join with all rebel groups to form the IRA, which would later revert to the IRB (Irish Republican Butterfly).They agreed that there should be an IRA for everyone in Ireland.

These IRAs would include the Real, the Surreal, the Continuity, the Intermittent, the Very Disruptive but Really Rather Nice and the Low-calorie, Sugar-free IRA. (I made most of those up, but that does not mean they do not exist. So all dissident groups are historically covered for their ceremonies. All we need now is justification for the individual party political commemorations.)

As the rising began Michael Collins said he would die for Fine Gael, so that it could invent austerity. Connolly said his death would be for the Labour Party, which would help to implement that austerity and de Valera said he would die, but not just yet, so that he could found Fianna Fáil to bankrupt the country.

All the other leaders decided to die for Stormont, so that people could become ministers without standing for election.

So there you have it. Our revised history of 1916 will now allow the various commemorative groups to march, make speeches, pontificate and scorn all rival commemorations.

However, the one thing which none of them will do is to solve the unemployment crisis in Ballymena. Commemorating the rising is seen as an acceptable substitute for failing to implement what it was intended to achieve, including for example, the Proclamation's objective of "the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation".

So the real inheritors of 1916 are neither politicians nor paramilitaries. They are those who, by their actions and principles, commemorate the rising in their daily work. These include for example, the community and voluntary sector, charities, credit unions, GAA clubs, Conradh na Gaeilge and the thousands of ordinary people who make Ireland a better place to live in.

Their history does not need re-writing.

22nd-Oct-2015 03:13 am - British Army's highest ranking IRA informer to be investigated over 24 murders
The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles

By Agency
The Telegraph
22 Oct 2015



Fred Scappaticci pictured in west Belfast in 2003 (Photo: PACEMAKER BELFAST)

The IRA's most senior security force informer is to be investigated over at least 24 murders.

The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, a shadowy figure himself responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles.

At the heart of victims' concerns is whether those deaths could have been prevented and whether collusion in murder penetrated to the top of the British Government.

Freddie Scappaticci has strongly denied being the man behind the codename.

A police watchdog has passed information to prosecutors after examining the circumstances of murders attributed to Stakeknife's IRA "internal security team".

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, asked police to investigate potential offences committed by Stakeknife.

He said: "I have outlined today extremely serious matters, perhaps the most significant in my time as DPP.

"I have not taken the steps to commence investigations lightly but, rather, consider they must be taken to ensure that public confidence can be maintained in the office of the DPP and in the wider criminal justice system."

He added a common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of Stakeknife.

"I confirm today that I have requested that the chief constable investigate a range of potential offences which relate to the alleged activities of an agent commonly known as Stakeknife."

Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman is investigating the murders of alleged informers by the IRA and the potential role of Stakeknife. It passed information to the DPP, which resulted in today's announcement.

Former Met Police commissioner Lord Stevens led three government investigations into security force collusion.

Relatives of the victims have pressed for a fourth more comprehensive and independent probe or public inquiry.

Frank Mulhern, whose IRA member son Joe was discovered in 1993 in a ditch near the Irish border in Co Tyrone with his body riddled by bullets, said there needed to be an independent investigation by an international police force.

He added: "It will continue to be covered up until we expose it and put a stop to it."

He said he had been pursuing the matter for many years and still hoped to receive justice.

"If he (the killer) was not being protected he would be in jail now. Of course he is being protected, even a blind man can see that."

Mr McGrory requested two separate investigations.

"The first will be an investigation of broad scope. This will seek to examine the full range of potential offences that may have been committed by Stakeknife.

"It will also include an investigation into any potential criminal activity that may have been carried out by security service agents."

I'm no spy, says the man named as Stakeknife

PSNI ACC Will Kerr said police had received a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions which the service was addressing.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further," he added.

Mr McGrory said Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin QC had recently been in contact with his office asking what action prosecutors may take about a particular murder implicating Stakeknife.

What is the truth behind the story of Stakeknife?

"I have identified one case where I consider that there is now sufficient information available at this point to review a prosecutorial decision. This relates to a case involving an allegation of perjury in 2003.

"I have serious concerns in relation to this decision. Having reviewed all the available evidence I consider that the original decision did not take into account relevant considerations and also took into account irrelevant factors.

"I have concluded that the original decision was not within the range of decisions that could reasonably be taken in the circumstances."

The decision has been set aside and the DPP asked the chief constable to provide further material.

22nd-Oct-2015 03:01 am - 'Stakeknife': police spy in IRA to be investigated over murders
Prosecutor tells police to open inquiry into crimes including murder allegedly linked to British state’s agent inside IRA, named as Freddie Scappaticci

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
21 Oct 2015



Freddie Scappaticci in 1987. (Photograph: Pacemaker)

One of the British state’s most important spies inside the Provisional IRA codenamed “Stakeknife” is to be investigated by police over a range of serious offences, including murder, while operating as an agent.

Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory, announced on Wednesday that he had instructed the region’s chief constable to open an inquiry into crimes allegedly linked to the spy named as Freddie Scappaticci.

It is understood the DPP has informed the chief constable that the police investigation should include a fresh look at up to 20 killings by the IRA in connection with the Stakeknife controversy.

McGrory’s decision has opened up the possibility that the Belfast republican accused of being a key informer for Britain while running the IRA’s “spy-catching” unit could be questioned about his secret career in open court.

McGrory said he had taken the decision after receiving information from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, whose office investigated complaints about the police handling of murders and violent interrogations which families alleged were linked to the state agent.

McGrory said: “The ombudsman has carried out a comprehensive analysis of material emanating from the three investigations carried out by Lord Stevens into allegations of collusion. A common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of an agent of military intelligence codenamed ‘Stakeknife’.

“In addition, the attorney general of Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC, has recently contacted me about a murder case to inquire about any action the Public Prosecution Service may be considering. This is a case in which the same agent is potentially implicated.

“In the light of all of this information, I concluded that I must exercise my power to request that the chief constable investigates matters which may involve offences committed against the law of Northern Ireland and did so on August 11, 2015.”

The DPP confirmed he was also instructing the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, to hold a separate investigation into allegations of perjury relating to a case connected to the “Stakeknife” scandal back in 2003.

Stakeknife was allegedly in charge of the so-called “head hunters”, the IRA unit that searched for, tracked down, brutally interrogated and then killed suspected informers.

Stakeknife was said to command a tightly knit group of men who were responsible for the deaths of many IRA members, some informers, others who it turned out were “set up” by the agent, who were murdered, their bodies normally dumped on side roads along the south Armagh border after hours and days of torture.

A number of families of IRA members shot dead as informers after interrogation by the “head hunters” have made complaints to the police ombudsman claiming that Stakeknife’s handlers in the security forces failed to use their agent inside the Provisionals to prevent their murders. Many of these families have alleged that their loved ones were “sacrificed” by the security forces to keep Stakeknife at the head of the IRA’s counter-intelligence unit where he could provide the state with invaluable insider information.

Meanwhile the DPP and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland said they had agreed that each of the two investigations be referred back to the police ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, so he can consider if any further inquiry should be made into the actions of the police in this controversy.

McGrory concluded: “Before making this announcement, I have had a number of meetings with the chief constable, the police ombudsman and the attorney general and we are agreed in our commitment to ensure that the public should be able to have full confidence in the criminal justice system. We will each play our role independently, openly and with integrity.”

After being named as one of Britain’s key spies inside the Provisional IRA in 2003, Scappaticci left Northern Ireland. He publicly denied he was an agent. Since then he has gone to court to prevent the media from identifying where he now lives and barring journalists from approaching him for interviews.

Scappaticci, the grandson of Italian immigrants now in his 70s, was said to be a “walk-in” agent who volunteered to work for the army’s military intelligence branch the Force Research Unit in the 1980s after a major falling out with IRA leaders in Belfast.

An audio tape posted on the internet, allegedly from General Sir John Wilsey, who was commanding officer of the British army in Northern Ireland between 1990 and 1993, recorded that the military regarded Scappaticci as “our most important secret”.

Wilsey is reported to have said on the tape: “He was a golden egg, something that was very important to the army. We were terribly cagey about Fred.”

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